At this stage of 36 weeks pregnant, you may feel your baby start to ‘drop’ down into your pelvis. This process is called ‘lightening’ and usually happens a few weeks before labour, especially if this is your first pregnancy. This process may increase pressure on your pelvis, which could cause some discomfort, especially when walking. You may also find that you’ll have to eat smaller, more frequent meals. On the bright side, heartburn should subside a little.
When you have just four weeks to go, pretty much all your symptoms have to do with the fact that baby’s almost here. Your 36 weeks pregnant symptoms may include:
- Better ability to breathe As baby descends into your pelvis, your lungs will have more space, and you’ll be able to breathe more deeply (but that costs you more frequent visit for urination 🙁 ).
- Pelvic discomfort You are feeling this one for the same reason you can breathe again. Baby is down low, putting pressure on your pelvis. Look out for signs of labor though, including regular, persistent contractions.
- Trouble sleeping Finding yourself up at 3 a.m. Find some ways to relax even if you aren’t getting much shut-eye.
- Heartburn Your growing baby is crowding your digestive system, preventing it from working the way it did when you weren’t pregnant. Antacids can help (as long as your doctor has suggested that). Prevent heartburn as much as you can by avoiding citrusy, spicy, vinegary, and greasy foods.
- Swollen ankles and feet Minor swelling is totally normal at 36 weeks pregnant and you’re even more likely to have it if you’re 36 weeks pregnant with twins. You might find that almost as soon as you deliver your baby, it completely disappears. But severe or sudden swelling can be a sign of a serious problem, so let your doctor know ASAP.
- Changes in vaginal discharge At 36 weeks pregnant, discharge may increase as your body readies itself for birth. But look out for watery discharge, which could be amniotic fluid, call your doctor. Look out for blood discharge, which is a sign of preterm labor or mucus-like or blood-tinged discharge, which could be the mucus plug. Losing the mucus plug is a sign labor is very near … consult your doctor ASAP.
- Braxton Hicks contractions You are probably still experiencing tightening in your abdomen, and it might be getting more intense. In fact, some pregnant women show up at the hospital thinking they’re in labor only to get turned away. Note that at 36 weeks pregnant, cramps that are at least as painful as menstrual cramps aren’t due to Braxton Hicks. If you’re experiencing something more severe, contact your doctor right away.
Because at 36 weeks pregnant signs of labor can tough to tell apart from regular pregnancy discomforts, you’ll want to tell your doctor if anything seems out of the ordinary. It’s worth the call. And yes, even a trip to the hospital to find out it’s false labor is totally okay. The worst that could happen is you get sent home to relax and wait.
At 36 weeks, your pregnant belly probably won’t seem to change much from week to week. You’ve probably gained close to 25 to 35 pounds total … the recommended total amount of pregnancy weight gain for women of normal BMI. From now on you are not getting to much weight gain …. probably only about a half-pound each week until baby’s born.
If you’re 36 weeks pregnant with twins, you’ve probably gained 35 to 45 pounds total. To say your belly is crowded is an understatement. While many moms having a twin deliver around week 36, there’s a chance you and your pair might hold on for a few more weeks. Remember that the longer you go, the less likely it is that your babies will need NICU time after birth. So even if you’re feeling super uncomfortable, hang in there and remember this extra time in utero is so good for the twins.
Development of Baby
At 36 weeks pregnant, baby is as big as a papaya, measuring about 18.7 inches (47cm long) from crown to heel and weighing in around 5.8 pounds (2.6 kilogram).
He or she is shedding most of the downy hair that covered the body as well as the vernix caseosa, the waxy substance that covered and protected the skin during the nine-month amniotic bath. Your baby swallows both of these substances, along with other secretions, making a blackish mixture, called meconium that will form the contents of her first bowel movements.
Your baby’s liver and kidneys are in working order. Circulation and immune systems are basically good to go. Now, baby is getting closer and closer to being able to breathe on his or her own. Plus, your 36-week fetus’s skin is getting smooth and soft, and his or her gums are rigid.
At the end of this week, your baby will be considered early term, full-term being 39 to 40 weeks. Babies born before 37 weeks are premature (or preterm), whilst those born at 41 weeks are late term, and those born after 42 weeks are postterm.
It’s most likely that your baby’s head is already positioned down. If not, your healthcare practitioner may suggest scheduling an external cephalic version (ECV) where pressure will be applied to your abdomen to try to manipulate your baby into a head-down position.
Your Braxton Hicks contractions are most likely more frequent now. Be sure to review the signs of labour with your healthcare practitioner and find out when you should be in contact.
Call your healthcare practitioner right away if you notice a decrease in your baby’s activity, if you think you’re leaking amniotic fluid, if you have any vaginal bleeding, fever, a severe or persistent headache, constant abdominal pain, or experience changes in your vision.
At your week 36 prenatal appointment, your doctor may check baby’s position. At this point, baby should already be in a head-down position. If not, he or she is considered breech. Don’t panic if your baby at 36 weeks is breech. Still there is a good chance he or she will turn naturally.
Your doctor may want to do a version procedure for a breech baby. A version is an attempt to turn baby by pushing and/or lifting your pregnant belly. Sounds rough and it doesn’t feel great, but don’t worry. It’s a low-risk procedure and it works more than 50% of the cases. Beforehand, you might be given medication to relax your uterus. You’ll have a 36 weeks pregnant ultrasound, so the doctor can clearly see baby’s position and the location of the placenta. Ultrasound may also be used during the procedure to guide the doctor’s movements. And baby’s heart rate will be monitored before, after, and possibly even during the version to make sure all seems well.
You will get a Group B Strep test around week 36 of your pregnancy. This is a test to see if you have a common bacterium called Group B Strep in your body. If you do, you might never even notice it, or it might cause a problem such as a UTI. For baby though, the bacteria could cause more severe problems and could even be life threatening. About 10 to 30 percent of pregnant women test positive for Group B. Treatment is simple: You’ll need an antibiotic drip during labor to significantly reduce the chances of transmitting the bacteria to baby.
If you’re 36 weeks pregnant with twins or have a high-risk condition such as high blood pressure or kidney or heart disease, you may have a biophysical profile this week. This combo of ultrasound and non-stress test gives your doctor a pretty good picture of how baby’s doing and rules out the need to deliver early.